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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  May 26, 2011 12:00am-12:30am EDT

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tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. first up, demaurice smith. as owners continue to lock out players, the players are making this case for a more equitable revenue split with the team owners. cornel conversation with west on how progressives perceive the obama white house. a conversation with demaurice smith and cornel west coming up next. >> all i know na h isme is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley.
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with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is happy to help tavis literacy and rov literacy and rstovemobe acles to economic empowerment one coersaobtion at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: demaurice smith is the head of the nfl players association. he is a former criminal prosecutor who worked with eric holder. good to have you on the program. >> good to be here.
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tavis: many people have been aware of this dispute. where are we as we speak? >> well, unfortunately right now the players of the national football league would much rather be playing football, they would much rather be working out with their teams trying to bring a championship back to their city. the national football league locked us out. our players want to play football and we have always wanted to play football. although talks between the sides continue with respect to settlement and mediation, players are working out on their own right now and they hope to be able to play football soon but that is all they want right now, to try to get back on the field. tavis: what are the issues that
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have caused this divide? >> the nfl owners opted out of this agreement and sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. we had an agreement that was signed in 2006 and the owners opted out because they said the deal was not working for them. the players, they don't want anything other than a fair deal. they did not ask for $1 more. they did not ask to and the deal. we said we would play under the same terms as 2006. one thing that the players have asked for and i am proud of them that they've actually demanded, they want a fair deal and they want to know that the equity between players and owners is fair, they want to know that the terms of the agreement are fair.
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they want to make sure that the economic balance between players who play for about 3.4 years and owners is equitable and fair. we have tried to do that, unfortunately we are in a lockout situation. my hope is that games it played and we maintain what i consider to be the best sport in america. that is what led us here. the owners had an offer on the table back in march that would have required players to pay owners of about $450 million back in year one. about $512 million in year two. an excess of $600 million in year three and so on and so on. the players of the national football league did not believe that was fair. tavis: your players and you have
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called the nfl a cartel. that is a strong indictment. >> no one will disagree with it. the national football league works as a monopoly. they are a closed system of who can come in. they are a closed system of who can own a team. there are things that occur within that monopoly which i say are very good for football. no player in the national football league would like to see the draft to go away but nonetheless, this restricts players' where they go with and that -- which violates the antitrust laws. there are limits on when players can be offered their services in the free market which restricts free agency. any business institution that operates like a monopoly operates like a cartel. i have to say that for the last 50 years or so, the balance
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between players and owners has been about 50/50 shares of all revenue. what struck the players by the owners' offer in march was a deal that on the day that the deal was signed, that share of the revenue drops to about 45%. then it would continue to drop unabated as shares of revenue grew disproportionately between owners and players. what we believe it is in a fair system and it equitable deal. we feel that is right. my hope is that the lockout gets lifted and that the season goes off without a hitch. that is what the class of players want and that is what the group of players are
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working towards. tavis: the fans of the nfl hope that this could be mediated. why is this not the case? for those that think that your strategy is for those that are two litigious, we have filed -- that are too litigious. >> we file the case against the nfl owners and were ultimately proven correct when we found out that they gained the television contract in a way to pay themselves $4 billion even though the players would not play and even though those cities would not enjoy the revenue coming from football. make any apologies for seeking redress in the courts when someone does something to
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us. what gets lost sometimes in the shuffle is that we have had over 70 negotiation sessions over two years. the first letter that i wrote to eague said let's give started on collective bargaining. the simple fact is that the players of the national football league have committed over $3 billion, 3 billion for the last 8 stadiums that have gone online. that is players making the decision to invest money that would have come to them into the growth of the game. the simple moral of that is that players don't have any problem contributing to the growth of the game. we want to make sure that it is
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fair and balanced. when it is not and wind a proposal that come on the table said -- when a proposal that came on the table said that there would be a massive shift from players to owners, that creates obvious and diversity. to your question about why this is not resolved or not mediated, there is not a person out there who would not say that sometimes you wish that business disputes were over more quickly than they are. the players know one thing, the fans love our games. this business, this game of football is one that generated $9 billion in the worst recession of our lives. what we have tried to do as the executive director is to enlighten our guys and make sure they are well informed. our players are the people making decisions. i am proud of them.
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we will continue to work to make sure that this season occurs but everyone should know that when i ran into london fletcher and all of the guys working out on behalf of the redskins, all of them said to the man that they are waiting to play football. tavis: how long can you hold them together? they can only go so long without making money. at some point, they have expenses and alliance. how long can you hold this team of players together? -- they have expenses and live s. >> when they make the decision to do something, it will be their decision. if they make a decision not to altogether, it will be their decision. tavis: you don't have a reason to believe that the bond is being broken at the moment?
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>> no, and if it is there are 32 player representatives. there is an 11 person executive committee. there is a class of plaintiffs, there is another group of plaintiffs in that comprises every player in the national football league. it is their decision. tavis: you have raised the names of two former great players both now deceased and i want to close by asking what these now deceased players have to do with these very live negotiations and the future of football? >> well, we have lived in a world where everyone likes to become an instant expert about what the issue is and that your issues of today are not tied to history but the guys you meioned, reggie white and dave e those who put the name on a lawsuit back in 1993.
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the nfl owners did not believe in and -- believe in anything called free agency. they did not think that there player should test their wares in the free market. they did not believe that it had a place and football. reggie white was one of the leaders who put their name on a lawsuit and decided to fight for a class of players. now we have come full circle and we are in another fight. this time it is people like tom brady, peyton manning, drew brees. that is our history. our history is one where i know that a fair deal can be done and i know that two sides can get together and make the right decision on what is good for our game. tavis: he is the head of the nfl
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players association, demaurice smith. thank you for spending some time talking about this dispute. we hope it will be figured out sometime in the not too distant future. >> thank you. tavis: up next, a princeton professor cornel west and the battle between progressives and the white house. please welcome dr. cornel west to the program. the princeton professor and best selling author is the co-host of "smiley and west." a good thing to see you. >> always a blessing, my brother. >> i will -- tavis: i want to go through the particulars of interview that you gave some days ago.
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it is called -- it has caused such a furor in the internet a much progressives and the black academy, specifically in the cabin boy or probably. here is what "the boston globe," had to say. you kicked up quite a controversy with your comments about barack obama and specifically your critique about him not being progressive enough. let me put out some of these. you have been taken to task for these and i will give you a chance to respond so we can understand better what it is. you referred to the president as a black mascot of wall street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats and now he has become head of the american killing machine and is proud of it. >> i had in mind in the fact that as a progressive you began
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with the plan and predicament of poor people. you see their situation with a sense of urgency, a state of emergency. mass unemployment, mass a underemployment, mass incarceration, massive lack of quality education and housing itself becomes part and parcel of a national security issue. those issues are as essential to the future of this nation as 150 billions in afghanistan. when i look, let's see what the policies are in place when you see some been symbolic gestures. you are not really dealing with mass unemployment, mass incarceration. the social misery is escalating among working people.
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one was open in 2006, that even if you have the bully pulpit he would be confronting wall street. someone got a reform bill, this is toothless. they're still unregulated. who will implement the rules. those of the kinds of questions that people are concerned with. tortured in various forms. most importantly, the plight of poor children. i don't see that kind of sense of urgency. tavis: did he have to be called a black mascot and a black puppet? many people called the petty for using this. >> i love mascots. i love poppets. he is still a human being. he still cares. he has a wonderful family.
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to call someone a mascot, that is it put down in terms of the role that they choose to perform. that is not an attack on his community. the same is true. there are the allies that i attack his mother. -- there are lies that i attack his mother. my mother called me and said, who was the person attacking you? i said, she is a liar. i got nothing against anyone of any color falling in love our being together. what you see here is the unformed culturally white. -- what you see here is being formed culturally white. all the notes is culturally black. -- hall and oates is culturally
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black. this is not a put down. we got to tell the truth. tavis: i think my dear brother barack obama has a certain fear of a free black man. he has always had to fear being a white man with black skin. all he has known culturally is white. he is just as human as i am but that is -- >> this can be overcome. our dear brother just got his church back. he grew up on the vanilla side of town. he had a white formation. he is fundamentally committed to the working people.
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john brown is a better example. he loves black folks many -- much more than many black folks form themselves. this is a description, this is not a racist characterization. to grow up on the vanilla side of town means that you have a certain fear of freeport- mcmoran. in his own autobiography, he said that his grandparents had a fear of black men. tavis: his grandfather used to be n word. >> we have to be honest in terms of historical formation. this is where you see the pathology of the pundit class. if people spend as much energy trashy me and demonizing me as focusing on the industrial complex, tell the truth. tell the truth about wall street and agreed still running
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amok this very minute. -- and the greed still running amok this very minute. tell the truth about the mass media. tavis: i was personally disturbed because i have great respect for the boston globe as an institution, as a paper. i am sure you saw this editorial written by the editorial board that was a personal attack on you. it did not wrestle with any of the issues that you raised in the article about poor people, about plutocrats. nothing addressed in the editorial about the issues that you raise but the entire attack on you and a celebration of larry summers. what do think about the article that did not deal with the issues that you raise?
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>> letter where he talked about the difference between a paper that deserves respect and yellow tabloids that attack person. no sense of what academic liberties are all about. no attacks on my professional quality, 19 books, no attacks on may teaching. teaching all the time, office hours for five-six hours every day. the only grounds was that i am glad that summer's ran him out which is a lie, because i reside. i decided to go to princeton. i may free black man. i go where i want to go. it shows you the degree to which the liberal class has a certain moral vacuous and is when it comes to these kind of issues. i did criticize my dear brother larry summers for being part of
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the economic team that president obama chose coming right out of the shadow of the wall street oligarchy and therefore making it a priority fort wall street to bounce back strong and four main street to suffer. that is a critique of policy. tavis: the third part of this article you have been most taken to task for, "he feels most comfortable with upper-middle- class white and jewish men who consider themselves very smart, savvy, and very effective in getting what they want." there are those who suggest this is anti-semitic. >> no, absolutely not. look at his advisers. look at his appointees. this is more national hockey league than the national basketball league. if we had a national football league like to point the were you have all these brilliant
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brothers and sisters, you would have a different dialogue. i said hey, get the most brilliant white radish you can get, get some progressive ones. get the most brilliant jewish brothers you can get, get progressive ones. get some brilliant black brothers. health care for all. these are the issues that you need to discuss. we could be living in a moment where we have a last chance to somehow pushed back the institutionalized greed that is completely devoured in the democratic sensibilities of the country. that is the kind of backbone that we need and the backbone i've not seen. if he had backbone for working people the way that he had back on for bin laden, i would be great dancing. i am not. i'm upset. tavis: the critique and those who do not like you have to do with cornel west being petty and
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you could not get an operation tickets. -- could not get inauguration tickets. i read that as a statement about character. there are others who say that you are petty and petulant. tavis: that is part of the weapons of mass destruction which goes hand-in-hand with the pond of class. this is not about me. the truth about my relationship with barack obama was one in which over time i felt this respected because after 65 events and no thank you, that is disrespectful. not being able to get a ticket. that is disrespectful. the fact that the brother working at the hotel could get it ticket, that is a great thing. i did not like to be disrespected. that is not the main issue.
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it is not about me. this is the failure to fundamentally follow through on caring for poor and working people and putting them at the center of your policy. that is the failure at the moment. i will continue to speak out. i don't mind getting trashed. if that is the only thing i have to take an order to focus on poor working people, -- tavis: glad to have you here as always. >> thank you. tavis: that's our program. good night, thank you for watching. as always, keep the faith. tavis: i'm tavis smiley, join me next time for the growing rift between the u.s. and pakistan plusa travel writer paul theroux. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i'm james.
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>> yes. >> to everyone making a difference -- >> thank you. >> you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a avnationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television]
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